Cora front and center for Christmas at Fenway
Red Sox celebrated 15th anniversary of annual holiday event held Saturday
BOSTON -- Saturday's Christmas at Fenway event provided new Red Sox manager Alex Cora with a chance to interact with hundreds of enthusiastic fans who will follow his every move from Spring Training through October.
It was a pleasant experience for Cora, who graciously signed autographs and took some selfies and spread his excitement for the upcoming season.
Cora is clearly at home in the spotlight, and he vows to be a presence in Boston even amid the pressures of his new role.
"It's been good," said Cora of his interactions with Red Sox fans. "I'm 42. I'm young. You'll see me around [town] with my backpack and sneakers and jeans, I'm going to live my life. Nothing changes. I think that's what I like."
Cora has already been to a Bruins game and Celtics game since being named manager of the Red Sox, and he attended a youth baseball program in the Boston area on Friday night before coming to Christmas at Fenway on Saturday.
"It was the same thing at home [in Puerto Rico], I was in shorts, sandals and T-shirts and people are excited," said Cora. "I know where I'm at, I know what I do, I know who I am, but at the same time, nothing's going to change."
Things will likely change on Boston's roster before Spring Training starts, but Cora will patiently wait out that process, all the while knowing the fans are getting antsy. The Yankees' acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton has made Red Sox fans on even more high alert than usual, waiting to see what type of roster upgrade president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski will make.
"Obviously we understand how they react and what they see around the league and I don't blame them," Cora said. "They're passionate about their team. I stole this line from Dave and I think it's the best line of the offseason, there's no deadline in the offseason so we just have to be patient. Something is going to happen. We're going to get better. When we get to February 14, we're going to have a good baseball team."
Judging by the thousands of fans who braved the cold on Saturday to take part in the festive event at Fenway, Cora isn't alone with his faith in what is ahead of the Red Sox in '18.
Saturday marked the first day that tickets went on sale on redsox.com for select home games in 2018, in addition to "Sox Pax."
"This is our 15th Christmas at Fenway and we're always sort of humbled by the support we get," said Red Sox president/CEO Sam Kennedy. "A couple of thousand people coming out in the freezing cold to kick off the Red Sox season and the Hot Stove season. I'm sure it helps to have a blockbuster move or trade or signing right before you go on sale with tickets but we're in this for the long haul. We know when Spring Training rolls around, hopefully we'll have the roster that we're looking for."
For Dombrowski, the quest continues to try to sign a free-agent hitter. J.D. Martinez is the slugger the Red Sox covet most. First baseman Eric Hosmer is another player the team is eyeing.
Despite a recent report that stated the Red Sox are trying to sign both of those players, Dombrowski maintained again Saturday that his search is for one big bat -- not two.
"I tried to answer that question at the Winter Meetings clearly, what our thought process is, and I'll leave it alone for now," Dombrowski said. "We are in the process where we're focused on getting one person."
When will that happen?
"I think we need to be patient," said Kennedy. "That's not easy for us or our fans but I think there's a recognition that this ownership, we're going to do everything we can to be successful."
Aside from Kennedy, Dombrowski and Cora, fans had the chance to meet former Red Sox players like Keith Foulke, Rico Petrocelli and Jim Lonborg and speak to current players Robby Scott, Austin Maddox and Deven Marrero at Saturday's event. There was also the chance to take pictures with World Series trophies from 2004, '07 and '13.
The new manager hopes there will be a fourth trophy to pose with at next year's Christmas at Fenway.
"What the [Yankees] do, it doesn't change what we wanted to do before the offseason," said Cora. "We're still shooting to be the best team in the league and improve our roster and at the end of the day, win the World Series. They did what they thought was good for them. It doesn't change what we're going to do."